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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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1 SFTS Wigram Oxford I NZ279 LAC. Francis Maurice McFarlane

Operation: Air to ground firing practice

Date: 15th. June 1940 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 1 Service Flying Training School

Type: Airspeed Oxford I

Serial: NZ279 (1)

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Wigram, New Zealand

Location: Akaroa, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pilot: LAC. 'Peter' Francis Maurice McFarlane A391840 RNZAF Are 24. Killed

2nd Pilot: LAC. John Lindsay McFadyen A391839 RNZAF Age 22. Killed


According to witnesses the aircraft was seemingly heading out to the bay but then turned sharply however, due to his low speed, stalled and dived steeply.

The aircraft struck buildings on Lavaud Street, Akaroa at 11:30 hrs and caught fire. Valmai Dann, aged 12 and Nathalie Ramsay, aged 14 who were close by suffered burns and shock. Valmai Dann was taken to hospital, but the other girl was not so severely burned.

Due to the intensity of the fire the wreckage could not be approached by the local inhabitants.

Above 1996 Acrylic painting by Graeme Williams. Shows Oxford NZ279 over Akaroa just before crashing

Above: the crash site of NZ279. Below: The crash site today, the single storey building on the right is where the aircraft hit. (Courtesy Aukland Weekly News)

(1) NZ279 - 501 P2032 Mark I. Built by Airspeed Ltd, Portsmouth, England. BOC with Unit No.1, Hobsonville on 24th April 1940 and assembled at No.1 Aircraft Depot. To No.1 SFTS, Wigram. Parts of this aircraft were possibly used in the construction of INST35 which was allotted to the TTS, Wigram.

Above L-R: Jamie Stewart, Richard Stewart, Rodney Laredo and Richard Sales (frame maker).At the unveiling of the memorial plaque 18th June 2022 (Courtesy Aukland Weekly News)

Burial details:

LAC. Francis Maurice McFarlane. Nelson Cemetery (Stoke) Grave 8.154. Born on the 17th. May 1916 in Napier. Worked as a clerk for Anchor Shipping and Foundry Company. He enrolled in the Civil Reserve of Pilots early in 1938 and gained his 'A"'Pilots Licence on the 11th March 1938, as a pupil of the Marlborough Areo Club. Enlisted at the Initial Training Wing, Levin, on the 17th. December 1939 and posted to Taieri on the 16th. January, 1940, for his elementary flying training. He proceeded to No.1.Flying Training School, Wigram, on the 1lth March 1940. Obtained his pilot licence on the 07th May 1940. Son of Herbert Osborne McFarlane (died 21st October 1951, age 70) and Fanny Cathcart McFarlane (née Coote - died 01st January 1963, age 82), of Dunedin, Otago;. Husband of Amy Maureen McFarlane (née Rogers, later Hall - died 02nd August 2019, age 102), of Tahunanui, Nelson. A total of 182 flying hours logged with 115 hours solo, 38 of these on the Oxford, (see below)

LAC. John Lindsay McFadyen. Greymouth Cemetery (Karoro) Grave 468. Born on the 04th April 1918 at Hokitika. From the time of leaving school in 1936 until applying for enlistment in the Civil Reserve of Pilots in March 1938 he was employed as a Draughting Cadet by the Public Works Department at Greymouth.S He commenced hisflying training in De cember, 1938 with the West Coast United Aero Club and gained the Pilots' 'A" Licence in March 1939. enlisted at the Initial Training Wing, Levin on the 17th December 1939 and posted to Daieri on the 16th. January 1940 for his elementary flying training. After completing this he proceeded to No. 1 Service Flying Training School, Wigram, on the 1lth March. Son of Malcolm John (died 05th October 1961, age 84) and Ethel May McFadyen (died 06th August 1975, age 86) of Roa Road, Blackball, West Coast, New Zealand.

Above: L-R: Rear; John Humfrey Deans, NZ/391829 (killed 25th January 1943), Ronald Lavender Baker NZ/391337 (killed 20th October 1943), R.B Cruikshank, Vincent David Gain NZ/391835 (died 24th October 2001), E.E Crocker.

Front; R.B Baird, Francis Maurice McFarlane (killed 15th June 1940), Kenneth Dawick NZ/391825 (died 22nd March 2005) , John Lindsay McFadyen A391839 (killed 15th June 1940). (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

The parents of F/O. McFarlane lost all four sons during the war:

24 year old, LAC. Maurice Francis McFarlne NZ/391840 RNZAF killed on the 15th June 1940 in an Airspeed Oxford NZ279 during a training accident, Both crew lost theirm lives whilst with 1 Service Flying Training School.

23 year old. Fl/Lt. John Osbourne McFarlane NZ/402881 RNZAF missing - believed killed on the 17th December 1943 in Warhawk NZ3175 whilst with 16 squadron.

25 year old, F/O. Laurence Herbert McFarlane 39545 RAF killed on the 02nd July 1940 in Whitley V N1461 whilst with 58 squadron. Four crew killed, one PoW.

23 year old, 2nd Lt. Donald Forrester McFarlane 2475 5 Field Park Company, New Zealand Engineers killed during the Libyan campaign on the 03rd December 1941..

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of Auckland, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland,

KTY 30-05-2024

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